From The Business Journals
Business not only was an issue in the first Democratic debate of the 2016 presidential campaign, so was capitalism itself.
Bernie Sanders, the self-professed democratic socialist, spoke out against the “casino capitalist process” through which “Wall Street wrecked the economy” and the top 0.1 percent of Americans own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Instead, he believes in an economy where universal health care is a right, all workers are entitled to paid medical and family leave, and students can go to college tuition-free.
During Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, Bernie Sanders called for a “political revolution,” while Hillary Clinton touted her ability to get things done.
Hillary Clinton, however, stood up for capitalism, but said the government needs to rein in its excesses “so it doesn’t run amok.”
“We would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs” on capitalism, Clinton said.
She talked about “all the small businesses that have been started because we have the freedom to do that.”
Playing the small business card forced Sanders to qualify his support for socialism.
“We are a great entrepreneurial nation — of course we have to support small and medium-sized businesses,” Sanders said.
But, he added, “you can have all of the growth that you want, and it doesn’t mean anything if all of the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. … We have to make sure that every family in this country gets a fair shake.”
How do you get there?
“The power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of drug corporations, the power of corporate media is so great, the only way to transform America is through a political revolution,” Sanders said.
That means millions of people who haven’t voted in the past need to come to the polls and insist that the government “work for all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.”
That also means giving money to his campaign, he implied, and he twice listed his website address.
Sanders’ talk of revolution prompted this reply from Sen. Jim Webb, a former senator from Virginia who fought as a Marine in Vietnam while Sanders was seeking conscientious objector status:
“Bernie, I don’ t think a revolution is going to come, and I don’t think Congress is going to pay for a lot of this stuff,” Webb said.
There was a lot of stuff to pay for, not just from Sanders’ proposals, but also from Clinton’s, and those of former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley as well.
When asked whether her call for paid family leave would cause small businesses to hire fewer people, Clinton said the benefit could be designed so “that it will not put the burden on small businesses.”
“We’re going to make the wealthy pay for it,” Clinton said. “That is the way to get it done.”
Sanders said he’d pay for free college educations through a “Wall Street speculation tax.”
Wall Street, pharmaceutical companies and fossil fuel industries were frequent targets for Democrats in this debate. Candidates argued about whether big banks should be broken up — Sanders and O’Malley said yes, Clinton was more nuanced in her answer, saying regulators need to worry about other types of financial institutions as well. Plus, at least Clinton acknowledged actually did address Wall Street’s role in creating the Great Recession by passing the Dodd-Frank Act, which she called “a very good start” at financial regulatory reform that needs to be defended from Republicans’ “tearing it apart.”
Clinton spent plenty of time attacking Republicans, but also said she knows how to work with them to get legislation passed.
“I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done,” Clinton said.
She sounded like Franklin D. Roosevelt, when she talked about the need to “save capitalism from itself.” and, without mentioning her husband’s name, probably made some viewers nostalgic for the 1990s, when the economy boomed under President Bill Clinton.
“The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House,” Clinton said.